Sorrow a cause of Melancholy.

Sorrow a cause of Melancholy.

Sorrow. Insanus dolor.] In this catalogue of passions, which so much torment the soul of man, and cause this malady (for I will briefly speak of them all, and in their order). the first place in this irascible appetite, may justly be challenged by sorrow. An inseparable companion, "The mother and daughter of melancholy, her epitome, symptom, and chief cause:" as Hippocrates hath it, they beget one another, and tread in a ring, for sorrow is both cause and symptom of this disease. How it is a symptom shall be shown in its place. That it is a cause all the world acknowledgeth, Dolor nonnullus insaniæ causa fuit, et aliorum morborum insanabilium, saith Plutarch to Apollonius; a cause of madness, a cause of many other diseases, a sole cause of this mischief, Lemnius calls it. So doth Rhasis, cont. l. 1. tract. 9. Guianerius, Tract. 15, c. 5. And if it take root once, it ends in despair, as Felix Plater observes, and as in Cebes' table may well be coupled with it. Chrysostom in his seventeenth epistle to Olympia, describes it to be a cruel torture of the soul, a most inexplicable grief, poisoned worm, consuming body and soul, and gnawing the very heart, a perpetual executioner, continual night, profound darkness, a whirlwind, a tempest, an ague not appearing, heating worse than any fire, and a battle that hath no end. It crucifies worse than any tyrant; no torture, no strappado, no bodily punishment is like unto it. 'Tis the eagle without question which the poets feigned to gnaw Prometheus' heart, and "no heaviness is like unto the heaviness of the heart," Eccles. xxv. 15, 16. "Every perturbation is a misery, but grief a cruel torment," a domineering passion: as in old Rome, when the Dictator was created, all inferior magistracies ceased; when grief appears, all other passions vanish. "It dries up the bones," saith Solomon, ch. 17. Prov., "makes them hollow-eyed, pale, and lean, furrow-faced, to have dead looks, wrinkled brows, shrivelled cheeks, dry bodies, and quite perverts their temperature that are misaffected with it." As Eleonora, that exiled mournful duchess (in our English Ovid), laments to her noble husband Humphrey, duke of Glocester

"Sawest thou those eyes in whose sweet cheerful look
Duke Humphry once such joy and pleasure took,
Sorrow hath so despoil'd me of all grace,
Thou could'st not say this was my Elnor's face.
Like a foul Gorgon," &c.

"it hinders concoction, refrigerates the heart, takes away stomach, colour, and sleep, thickens the blood (Fernelius l. 1. cap. 18, de morb. causis), contaminates the spirits." (Piso.) Overthrows the natural heat, perverts the good estate of body and mind, and makes them weary of their lives, cry out, howl and roar for very anguish of their souls. David confessed as much, Psalm xxxviii. 8, "I have roared for the very disquietness of my heart." And Psalm cxix. 4 part, 4 v. "Mv soul melteth away for very heaviness," v. 83, "I am like a bottle in the smoke." Antiochus complained that he could not sleep. and that his heart fainted for grief, Christ himself, Vir dolorum, out of an apprehension of grief; did sweat blood, Mark xiv. "His soul was heavy to the death. and no sorrow was like unto his." Crato consil. 21, l. 2, gives instance in one that was so melancholy by reason of grief; and Montanus consil. 30, in a noble matron, "that had no other cause of this mischief." I. S. D. in Hildesheim, fully cured a patient of his that was much troubled with melancholy, and for many years, "but afterwards, by a little occasion of sorrow, he fell into his former fits, and was tormented as before." Examples are common, how it causeth melancholy, desperation, and sometimes death itself; for (Eccles. xxxviii. 15), "Of heaviness comes death; worldly sorrow causeth death." 2 Cor. vii. 10, Psalm xxxi. 10. "My life is wasted with heaviness, and my years with mourning." Why was Hecuba said to be turned to a dog? Niobe into a stone? but that for grief she was senseless and stupid. Severus the Emperor died for grief; and how many myriads besides? Tanta illi est feritas, tanta est insania luctus. Melancthon gives a reason of it, "the gathering of much melancholy blood about the heart, which collection extinguisheth the good spirits, or at least dulleth them,sorrow strikes the heart, makes it tremble and pine away, with great pain; and the black blood drawn from the spleen, and diffused under the ribs, on the left side, makes those perilous hypochondriacal convulsions, which happen to them that are troubled with sorrow."

Previous Next